Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Impulse and Momentum

Figure from experiment 19A from Physics with Vernier


The impulse-momentum theorem relates impulse, the average force applied to an object times the length of time the force is applied, and the change in momentum of the object:

\overline F \Delta t = m{v_f} - m{v_i}

Here, we will only consider motion and forces along a single line. The average force, F, is the net force on the object, but in the case where one force dominates all others, it is sufficient to use only the large force in calculations and analysis.

For this experiment, a Motion Encoder Cart will roll along a level track. Its momentum will change as it collides with a hoop spring. The hoop will compress and apply an increasing force until the cart stops. The cart then changes direction and the hoop expands back to its original shape. The force applied by the spring is measured by a Dual-Range Force Sensor. The cart velocity throughout the motion is measured with a Motion Encoder. You will then use data-collection software to find the impulse to test the impulse-momentum theorem.


  • Measure a cart’s momentum change and compare it to the impulse it receives.
  • Compare average and peak forces in impulses.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Physics with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Graph Matching
2ABack and Forth Motion
2BBack and Forth Motion
3ACart on a Ramp
3BCart on a Ramp
4ADetermining g on an Incline
4BDetermining g on an Incline
5Picket Fence Free Fall
6Ball Toss
7Bungee Jump Accelerations
8AProjectile Motion (Photogates)
8BProjectile Motion (Projectile Launcher)
9Newton's Second Law
10Atwood's Machine
11Newton's Third Law
12Static and Kinetic Friction
13Air Resistance
14Pendulum Periods
15Simple Harmonic Motion
16Energy of a Tossed Ball
17Energy in Simple Harmonic Motion
18AMomentum, Energy and Collisions
18BMomentum, Energy and Collisions
19AImpulse and Momentum
19BImpulse and Momentum
20Centripetal Accelerations on a Turntable
21Accelerations in the Real World
22Ohm's Law
23Series and Parallel Circuits
25The Magnetic Field in a Coil
26The Magnetic Field in a Slinky
27Electrical Energy
28APolarization of Light
28BPolarization of Light (Rotary Motion Sensor)
29Light, Brightness and Distance
30Newton's Law of Cooling
31The Magnetic Field of a Permanent Magnet
32Sound Waves and Beats
33Speed of Sound
34Tones, Vowels and Telephones
35Mathematics of Music

Experiment 19A from Physics with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Physics with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

Dev Reference: VST0719

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